A Love Letter from Emily White

Emily White:

Dear Lowcountry,

You have raised me. I was born in July of 2000 at Trident Medical Center in North Charleston, and from there I was brought home to James Island. I was the first child my parents had, and it remained that way for another two years, until my brother was born. We all lived together in a cozy home that I don’t remember much of, except that there was a koi pond, sunflowers, and big trees. We remained there for the next four years, until my parents decided to move to Mount Pleasant. The following years, I was signed up for numerous sports and attended many city coordinated activities with my family. We were never bored.

Hurricane Irene, 2011, with my brother, Louis

Hurricane Irene, 2011, with my brother, Louis

This past summer, for the first time, I went West Coast. West Coast, Best Coast was a saying I had heard many times, and before my trip, I believed it to be true. We drove all along the California coast, and it being the dead of summer, we stopped at more than a few beaches, and to put it candidly, they didn’t meet my expectations. The beaches could not compare to the ones I had back home. I desperately missed Isle of Palms (IOP), Sullivan’s Island, and Folly Beach, where you were guaranteed water at the perfect temperature, and beaches that weren’t too crowded (especially if you went to the right spot during the right time). Another thing I frequently missed when traveling was our famous Charleston sunsets. I have never traveled anywhere where the sunset was as beautiful and colorful as it is in Charleston, South Carolina. My family’s go to spots to witness this Lowcountry treasure are the Pitt Street Bridge, and the Waterfront Park Pier, but our own backyard also serves the sight justice. 

My family's addition to the Charleston Strong wall, downtown

My family's addition to the Charleston Strong wall, downtown

One of the other many things that I love about my home is the opportunity it has given me. I am able to go to one of the best high schools in the nation, hang out downtown with my friends, play Ultimate Frisbee with my parents, and run the Ravenel Bridge whenever I want (something 40,000 people from all over the country come to do once a year). And, if the rare feeling of boredom comes about, you can guarantee that a city activity is happening.

My family, exploring Botany Bay, earlier this year

My family, exploring Botany Bay, earlier this year

Today, I begin my junior year of high school, so the topic of college keeps working its way into the conversations I have with relatives, advisors, and friends. I was born and bred in the Lowcountry and I carry that with me everywhere I go. I’m excited to make my own way, but I also dread the day I may have to say goodbye to the only home I have ever known. Regardless, I know with full confidence that the Lowcountry will always be part of me. For now I am enjoying the next two years under my parent's roof and care in this wonderful city. I am also enjoying the beaches, the sunsets, the weather, and the people whom are unlike any other that I will ever experience anywhere else.

Love,
Emily 

Bio (By Emily Gildea):
Emily lives in Mt. Pleasant with her parents, Eric and Meredith, and her two siblings, Lewis and Molly. Today, she starts her junior year of Academic Magnet High School with her brother starting as a freshman. Emily is an active community volunteer and wrote this letter without any coaxing from a parental unit. I personally connect to Emily through our shared namesake and height advantages.

Charleston is Where the Heart Is... written by David Wicke

David in the second grade at mokulele Elementary, Hawaii

Son of a Navy Sailor from Minnesota, I am what you might call a Military Brat.  I was born in Charleston at the Naval Hospital that has now since closed.   Due to my father's occupation, we were able to live in exotic locations such as Guam and Hawaii.  However, we always came back to Charleston.  This area was my father's favorite.  As a child, I never really understood.
 
We lived mostly in the Goose Creek area right next to the woods.  I remember tromping through them with my older brother seeking one adventure after another.  My sister, brother and I attended the local schools, Westview Elementary and Middle as well as Stratford High School.  I think out of the three of us, I loved going to school the most.  You couldn't keep my head out of a textbook.
 
My father would also take us out to Short Stay on Lake Moultrie with our little Jon boat.  He would spend the day teaching my brother and I how to fish.  Needless to say, I wasn't very good at it and was usually the day's catch.  Luckily enough, we could always stop by our favorite restaurant in Moncks Corner called the Dock Restaurant on the Tailrace Canal. Unfortunately, it closed a few years back but the hush puppies were amazing.
 
After high school, I had the choice of staying local or going to another state.  Although home is Charleston, I decided to go off to Indiana to a private engineering school.  While I met some amazing people in my time in Indiana, I always looked forward to coming back to Charleston during holidays. 
 
My palate has considerably changed since college but what I would look forward to most when being back from school was Wild Wing Café at downtown Charleston.  My sister and my parents never had to ask where I wanted to eat.  I could order 30 wings at once along with a side of their delicious buffalo chips. Afterwards, I would visit my sister out on Isle of Palms.  Two blocks from the beach, it was very enticing to visit all the time. Being a Navy brat, I fell in love with the ocean at an early age and Charleston's beaches are wonderful.
 
After college, I had a few offers of employment in Indiana and some other states but Charleston called me back.  I was able to find work as a government contractor due to the burgeoning technical scene here.  I believe they want to call this area Silicon Harbor. I still lived in Goose Creek but I had more chances to go downtown when I was working on my Master's degree.  While I love a good hot wing, my new favorite restaurant became Basil, a Thai Restaurant on King Street. Their ginger chicken is amazing and a recipe I secretly want to learn.  I also learned to love "big as your head" burritos from Yo Burrito! and spicy New York style pizza from Andolini's which was right next to the computer science building at the College of Charleston.  I also had a wonderful group of friends who would meet up at Kaminsky's on Market Street.  We would each order a separate dessert, take a few bites and then rotate so everyone could enjoy their delicious treats.
 
As a student of the College of Charleston, I was able to take sailing lessons out of the historical Patriot's Point, home of the U.S.S. Yorktown.  We were able to take out our little J/22 sailboats into Charleston Harbor.  I remember one eventful lesson where the instructor had to chase me down after passing Fort Sumter heading for the harbor mouth.  I felt like I was ready for the ocean.
 
 After getting my Master's degree, the government decided to bring me on and send me to Germany.  I had an amazing time in Europe, don't get me wrong, but after a little over three years, I really missed the ocean.  This time, I chose to move to James Island.  What a change.  Goose Creek is amazing if you have or want a family and don't mind commuting.  James Island, however, offers a mix of being close to the beach and close to downtown with housing for families or for singles.
 
It was while I lived in James Island that I fell in love with surfing.  Surprising considering I lived in both Guam and Hawaii and never surfed.  Everyday after work, I would race home to grab my board and head to Folly Beach.  Whether the surf was good or not, it was amazing to get into the water.  If there was the off occasion where I didn't feel like surfing, I could always go to James Island County Park to walk the beautiful trails that run along the intracoastal waterway or play on the climbing wall.  Some days, I would even walk across the Ravenel Bridge to take in a beautiful view of Downtown Charleston.
 
It was in Charleston that I would meet my beautiful wife.  We both met on the job although, as my wife would tell it, I'm terrible at reading signals.  It took me a while to realize the beautiful young woman that continually bumped into me in the hall was actually interested in me.  Our first date was at a wonderful sushi restaurant on King Street called O-Ku.  We were both pretty nervous but luckily the beautiful music from Seth G., the violinist, helped drown out my stammering.
 
After a wonderful courtship we decided to tie the knot.  We held our wedding at McCrady's Restaurant in historic Unity Alley.   Catered by Sean Brock's team of chefs, our menu was full of wonderful Lowcountry cuisine.
 
Well, now I see why my father loves the Lowcountry so much.  I have so many wonderful memories of this place.  

Catching waves during the winter on folly beach

Catching waves during the winter on folly beach